29th Cambridge: Outline History

Cambridge District Scout Archive

The 29th Cambridge Scout Group was founded in 1928.  A previous 29th (Old Chesterton) returned census numbers between 1921 and 1923.  It does not appear to have any continuity with the 1928 Group.

Few records remain concerning the 29th.  Elements of the 1928 All Saints Group are informed by the Parish Magazine.  A short later history from 2015 is supplied by Tony Claydon.  Both are available under Structure/ Troops and Groups/ 21st – 30th Cambridge/ 29th Cambridge.  Little is known of names, camps or activities from the intervening years. 

As yet this can only be an Outline History.

1928 – to date

The 29th has continued as an unbroken active group since 1928.  During this time it has changed sponsors and names and has amalgamated several times.  It has retained the IHQ number 1991 which it received in 1928.  The 28th Cambridge, another Group formed in 1928 was given the number 1990 at the same time and this helps confirm that they were not part of the 1928 re-registration of existing Troops and Packs into Groups. This re-registration returned a different sequence of IHQ numbers. Neither Group was in existence before this date.

The group can be considered in three phases

1928 – 1941    29th Cambridge (All Saints)

1941 – 1951    29th/42nd East Barnwell

1951 – date     29th Cambridge

1928 – 1941                        29th Cambridge (All Saints)

The All Saints Troop (8th Cambridge) failed at some point between 1923 and 1929. A new group (29th Cambridge) was founded in 1928 and the irregular surviving copies of the Parish magazine record Scouts in 1930, but without detail. The available magazines from 1934 onwards record Wolf Cubs, Scouts and Rovers.

The Parish Magazine fails to recognize the amalgamation with the 42nd in 1941, the Scouts remain ‘our Scouts’ throughout.

The GSM was R H Cook and the Rover Den was at the top of the Parish Hall. A concert was held in 1935 ‘We liked best Mr. Hubert Gidney’s solo rope spinning to the tune of ‘Old Faithful’. Mr. Newell of Addenbrookes Hospital was SM and J R Lawton of Fitz William House ASM. In 1936 they won the boxing. A pack was running, Miss Elsie Swatton as Lady CM replaced Mr. T Mole.

In June 1936 the magazine reports and accidental meeting on Waterloo Station with Chief Scout Lord Baden Powell. He talked with them and joked with the boys.

By 1938 the Troop was receiving a talk about ARP (Air Raid Precautions) and volunteering – probably as messengers. In June 1939 it is recorded that ‘The Scouts under Mr. Thurbon’s elder brother seem to be reviving their activities. Presumably some problems had arisen, either of a gap in leadership or a move to cadet corps, although this is possibly a little early. The Parish magazine reported that the ‘old scouts are sticking loyally to the troop’. Thurbon senior was SM, Leslie Neal ASM. However, by December 1939 the DC Howard Mallett was looking after the troop.

Census figures

  • Scouts              1928 onwards
  • Rovers              1930– 1932 
  • Cubs                1933 onwards

Two Scouts from the 29th attended the World Scout Jamboree in 1937.  They won the Morley Competition in 1936 and the Boxing Competition from 1936 – 1938

1941 – 1951                        29th/42nd Cambridge (East Barnwell)

The war time amalgamation of Groups was usually a response to the lack of leaders and meeting places.  The reasons for that of the 29th / 42nd is not specifically given at the time.  We know that the 42nd Troop was losing leaders and joined the 29th, the 42nd Pack remained as a going concern.  The 29th/42nd had a pack from the point of amalgamation.  This was later to become 29th/42nd A pack when in 1947 the 42nd pack gave up its own registration to become 29th/42nd B pack.

The lack of names and stories limits the research concerning members of the Group in WW2.  A questionnaire of about 1941/42 gives five leaders two of whom were women but none engaged in other war work (Red Cross ARP etc.)  This large leadership base probably enabled the amalgamation with the 42nd. They returned details to a 1945 questionnaire but notable events or the death of ex members were not recorded.  

From the Parish Magazine of All Saints we have

  • In May 1941 Mr Halstead was ‘making good progress with the scouts’, Miss Dilley was CM. They camped at Bury St Edmund. The national registration of all 16 -18 year old in January 1942 was recorded as a potential
  • The Parish magazines are not available after 1943.
  • The troop camped in 1943, 24 campers with three boats, and the Cubs camped at Abington
  • The final connection with the church was broken by the Churchwarden in 1945. The disassociation was confirmed in a letter of 1946

As had occurred with amalgamations or retitling when the Troop was the 8th Cambridge, the amalgamation with the 42nd Troop was not recorded in the Parish magazine. The change in scarf, location and leadership were omitted.

The troop and pack camped in 1941 for nine nights and were active in earning badges in 1941 and 1942 with at least one Kings Scout.

One War Service Scout was recorded for the years 1943 and 1944.

In 1946 the AGM report suggested that the Rover Crew were again active.  This is not reflected in the Census figures returned for these years.

  • Scouts              1941 – 1950               
  • Cubs                1941 – 1950   

The Troop became Sea Scouts from 1948 – 1950 continuing as Sea Scouts as the 42nd for three more years.  The Troop numbers fluctuated between 16 and 37.

They won the Morley Competition in 1946 and the Alert Competition in 1949; the Wolf Cub’s won the Totem in 1946, 1947 and possibly 1950.

Named leaders with dates of reference not tenure

  • Mr. Halstead               SM       1942
  • A Woolf                       ASM     1945    and      Leader I/C 1946
  • Miss Stanley                CM      1947    29/42
  • Mr Bidwell                  Group Committee 1948
  • Miss Long                    CM      1949    29/42   later 42nd

In the AGM report of 1949 Miss Long was labelled as belonging to ‘Holy Trinity’.  Whether this was in error, respect for her past allegiances or anticipation of the always anticipated reversal of the amalgamation is not clear. 

When the reversal came in 1950/51 the term used was ‘simplified’.  With the then leaderless 25th Cambridge Troop, the three Groups were rearranged as

  • 25th Pack         became the 25th Victoria Congregational Church (the Group had been associated with the church, it was the Troop that had lost leaders and from whom the Church wished to disassociate.           The new 25th opened in 1950, lasted a year and was amalgamated into the 12th Cambridge.
  • 29th/42nd and 25th Troops and the 29th/42nd B Pack              became 42nd Cambridge and whilst re registering in 1953 was active until 1978.
  • 29th/42nd A Pack         became 29th Cambridge (East Barnwell) and retained the original IHQ number 1991.

The reasons for these particular divisions are not given.   The 29th/42nd was clearly strong enough to divide successfully into two robust Groups.

1951 – to date       29th Cambridge

The Group was re registered in March 1951 seemingly dropping the name East Barnwell.  It has remained in the same part of town and is still often identified by this location.  The scarf colours had changed several times with the amalgamation but became Royal Blue with a Grey Border at this time.

Census figures

  • Cubs                1951 – 1984
  • Scouts              1952 – 1984                No Scouts were transferred to the new 29th
  • Senior Scouts   1948 and 1956 – 1965
  • Sea Scouts       1963    (3 No.)             For this year only although figures were not requested for the years immediately before and after 1966.
  • Rovers             1946, 1957, 1961 and 1967    all single years                                   
  • Ventures          1972 – 1977                 later presumably feeding into District VSU’s

Scouts started again within a year.  In 1956 it absorbed the 10th Cambridge with no change of name.  The 10th restarted within a year but we do not know whether the transferred members left at this point.   Most Census returns are not available after 1984.

List of around 1950 gives the group meeting at East Barnwell Community Centre.

  • R F Robinson               Scouter I/C      c. 1950           
  • Tony Fowler                ASM                 c. 1960

In 1956 an area of land was offered to the Group by the Council and a Scout hut built with volunteer labour.  1956 18th December 50 year lease signed with council at £5 rent/ year. Rodney Ison involved.  The building on Stenesfield Road was formally opened in 1960.

We have names but no dates from around this era:

  • June Bastion                CSL                  Previously June Ison
  • Rodney Ison                
  • Colin Taylor                 Scouter

It is recalled that an ex-treasurer at the time took the money, however, ‘donations came in quickly from the people of Cambridge.’

District records become a poorer source of individual Group activities in this era and no Group records are available to give more details

1975    A member of the 29th attended the World Scout Jamboree.

1982    Moved to South Cambridge District with the split of Cambridge District

1986    The 29th opened the first Beaver Colony in South Cambridge District.

  • David Woollard           ASL, SL, GSL     1992 – 2006

2015    Won the Cubs Sports

2015    23rd March     Scout Centre rebuilt on a diminished plot with a new entrance on Thoreley Road, funded by a Section 106 grant from the new building in the area.

JWR Archivist July 2022